A Wales XI playlist
The delightful John MOuse recently brightened up lockdown by joining the podcast for an for an upcoming episode.
John has a track on his Death of John MOuse LP called ‘Robbie Savage’ and with Gareth Bale being name-checked on Keys’ recent belting LP Bring Me The Head of Jerry Garcia Russell Todd found myself one night falling down a rabbit hole in the pursuit of another nine Wales players mentioned in song titles to comprise a Wales XI.
It went better than expected….
GK – Kelsey by Harry Hudson
Harry Hudson is an American folk-pop singer with A-lister mates like Kylie Jenner and Jaden and Willow Smith. Part of his childhood was spent in Liverpool. The track ‘Kelsey’ appears on Hudson’s debut album on Jay-Z’s Roc Nation label Yesterday’s Tomorrow Night.
Jack Kelsey is a Wales and Arsenal legend. Practically ever-present from his debut in 1954 until an injury against Brazil forced him to retire in 1962, Kelsey was the first choice at the 1958 World Cup, where he was the first Arsenal player to feature at a World Cup. He was the first choice for the London XI team that reached the first ever Inter-Cities Fairs Cup final in 1958 although he shipped six goals in the second leg at the Nou Camp against a Barcelona XI.
RB – Mark Bowen by Faith No More
The song ‘Mark Bowen’ can be found on Faith No More’s debut LP We Care A Lot. The band’s early demoes tended to not feature lyrics or have formal titles. According to Bowen, an early guitarist in FNM, the track was sent to Chuck Moseley when FNM auditioned him to be their permanent singer. He wrote lyrics for the song but the title had by then stuck. It’s not known whether the guitarist also has the middle name Rosslyn.
Norwich City Hall of Famer Bowen could feature either side of defence and also played for Spurs, West Ham, Charlton and had a short spell in Japan. His 11 year international career started in a 2-0 defeat to Canada in Toronto in 1986 and ended in a goalless draw against Ireland in 1997. Currently, steadying the ship at the helm of Reading, where he finally stepped out of the managerial shadow of Mark Hughes who he first assisted with Wales before following Sparky to a number of clubs.
LB – Psycho Pattes by France D’Amour
I don’t speak French but I’m certain that French-Canadienne D’Amour is singing about ‘Psycho’ Pat Van Den Hauwe on the closing track of her 2001 LP Hors de Tout Doutes.
Belgian-born (but not French bred) Van den Hauwe declined to complete Belgian national service and so was prevented from playing for his homeland. Eligible for all the home nations via citizenship, England were interested but Kenny Sansom was a rock solid first choice left back for the Three Lions. He played for another England though, Mike, after presumably being persauded to become Welsh by his Everton teammates Kevin Ratcliffe and Neville Southall. Psycho made his debut in the 3-0 victory over Spain at The Racecourse. He later fell out with Mike England and won only 13 caps making him eligible for our Better To Burn Out Than Fade Away XI.
CB – Eric ‘The Ninja’ Young by Skindred
It’s pretty clear who Newport’s Benji Webbe is singing about even if Young isn’t mentioned specifically:
In a far away land (Singapore)
Four brothers and one bastard son, you
Became known as the ultimate fighting machine (in a headband)
I bring you The Ninja
Now the ultimate accounting machine, Young qualified for Wales as a UK passport holder and went onto win 21 caps, a decent haul considering he made his debut in the same game as Gary Speed versus Costa Rica in 1990 having already turned 30.
CB – The Diary of Ashley J Williams by TV Tragedy
If The Offspring, NOFX or Rancid push your buttons then you might well like Arizona punks TV Tragedy. This song is actually a homage to The Evil Dead‘s Ashley Joanne Williams and appeared on their debut full length LP Burning From Within. But unless you can definitively say Ashley Errol Williams doesn’t have a necronomicon then it probably applies equally to our hero Ash.
Speaking of whom, one word will suffice: Legend
Mid – Robbie Savage by John MOuse
If you’re still reading this and are thinking ‘What the Jesus suffering fuck is this rubbish?’ then blame MOuse (not Mouse by the way); it’s his ode to Robbie Savage that prompted it. The song features on the brilliant The Death of John Mouse LP which you really must let into your life. Across all MOuse’s releases you will find spoken word, lo-fi, anthemic indie pop and electronic music. There’s probably a jazz-grindcore album in him at some point in the future too. MOuse’s ‘I Was A Goalkeeper’ was selected on our Euro 2016 playlist curated with Dave Owens.
Loathe him or hate him, Robbie Savage has undeniably carved out for himelf a lucrative post-playing media career in which from his rent-a-gob scamper all sorts of random opinions leaving his more prosaic colleagues to forage for any meaning and sense in their wake. So not unlike how Mark Pembridge used to have mop up after the Savage in the Welsh midfield.
Mid – Koumasse by Djeneba Seck
Discovered this Malian female singer in the course of putting this together; and I’m so glad I did. It’s a beautiful track. It’s from Seck’s 1998 LP Djourou, which might be about Johan for all I know.
Frustrating and impressive in equal measure, Koumas(se) could have been the creative midfield pivot Wales had traditionally always lacked. On occasions he managed it, most notably at home to Norway in 2008 and he also impressed in the away play-off game versus Russia. But against more illustrious opposition or teams he should have taken to task (home to Finland in 2009?) he all too often went missing. Koumas(se) featured prominently in our Toshack Years podcasts. For all the valid criticisms of Toshack’s man-management skills, he invested an admirable amount of patience in Koumas(se). Sadly it was never to be.
Mid – Ramsey by Drwn.
I know the square root of sod all about Drwn. (apparently the full stop is part of their name) and this is one of only two songs by them/him/her on Spotify. It’s the perfect song to kick back and chill out to in the wee hours after a sesh. As is watching a Rambo highlights reel on YouTube when you roll in.
From the Twyn to Turin, Aaron Ramsey is rubbing shoulders with the European elite having already ascended to the status as Wales’s greatest ever midfielder. I reckon Ramsey has his sights on, at least, a Euro 2021 semi final, if for no other reason than it will stop the likes of Simon Church and Andy King from giving it large on the players’ WhatsApp about having played in more Euro semis than him.
Mid – Brian Flynn / The Fairy Reel by Castlebay
If diddly-diddly Celtic folk music is your thing then you’ll love this 9 minute epic by Maine duo Castlebay about an Irish chap called Brian Flynn who finds a fairy kingdom. Or some such guff.
Thanks in so small part to our kid, Leon Barton, Port Talbot’s Little Wonder is finally gaining the recognition across Wales he deserves and which was previously confined to Wrecsam, Burnley and Leeds. Would 2016 have happened without him?
CF – Ian Rush by Damian Schwartz
A dance number that features on a release on the Legend of Gelert label called Elidir Fawr, one of a series of releases named after peaks and ranges in Eryri. Whether the north Welsh theme inspired the Spaniard Schwartz to name the track after Fflint’s ffinest isn’t clear.
The thought of Rushie being put through one on one with the keeper from a sumptuous Ramsey or Koumas(se) through ball has got me purring. He never had such craft and guile in the Welsh midfields he played with until Ryan Giggs landed on the scene, by which time Rush’s best days were behind him.
CF – (Gareth Bale) Killed My Scene by Keys
A stomping psychedelic rocker from Wales’s own Keys (formerly The Keys, and before that Murry The Hump). Criminally under-known, Keys released one of last year’s best albums Bring Me The Head of Jerry Garcia which draws on the acid-tinged spirit of Woodstock, early Fleetwood Mac, Cream and the druggier bits of The Beatles.
The only man to have scored more goals for Wales than his striking partner in this XI, part-time footballer, part-time golfer, full-time Madrid bater Bale recently returned to post-pandemic training the fittest and fastest member of the Real squad.
Currently being linked with nouveau-riche Newcastle United after being bankrolled with dirty Saudi money but I have as much chance of going to the Euros next year as that happening.
Freestone by Freedom – a swaggering blues number from 1970s Procol Harum off-shoot. It sounds like Cream jamming with the Doobie Brothers and it’s either about one cap wonder big Roger or about getting in your girl’s knickers.
Sparky by Kristin Hersh – was tempted to pick Teenage Fanclub’s Sparky’s Dream but figured most of you lot are already familiar with it, whereas Throwing Muse’s Hersh might be less familiar. Sparky is a short but perfectly formed acoustic instrumental from Hersh’s 1994 debut solo LP Hips and Makers.
Would you mind telling Mark Hughes he’s only on the bench though….?
Hail Caesar by AC/DC – an AC/DC song that doesn’t sing about sliding it in, sinking a cold one, or rocking all night long is a rare beast indeed. Hail Caesar is either about classical Roman emperors or rugged Victorian Brycheiniog centre halves.
Caesar Jenkyns was one of professional football’s original hard men. Capped eight times by Wales he was Arsenal’s first ever international and later captained forerunner of Manchester United, Newton Heath.
Billy Rogers by Odio a Botero – Colombian punks Odio a Botero namecheck Wrecsam born Billy Rogers who was one of The Unknowns to face Scotland at Ibrox in 1930. A member the previous year of the FAW’s tour of Canada, Rogers won a second cap in 1930 but within 6 years was dead at the age of just 31. Remarkably, he continued playing professionally for Newport County, Bristol Tovers, Clapton Orient and Bangor City while suffering from cancer, though it was tuberculosis to which he finally succumbed.
Walter Davis Blues by Christian Rannenberg – Walter Davis earned his Wales call up, going onto score once, having established himself as a regular scorer for Millwall – the Steve Morison of his era perhaps. This Millwall striker was born in Mold | Yr Wyddgrug but was raised from childhood in east London where he was discovered playing local football by The Lions after leaving the Army. His five caps came in a 13 month period between 1913 and 1914. Davis was later at 48 found drowned in suspicious circumstances in London.
Christian Rannenberg is a German blues and boogie pianist.
Love Jones by King Midas – this RnB number contains soem of the most cringeworthy lyrics I’ve ever heard, including this pearler:
I got a Love Jones for your body baby
Everything about you just drives me crazy
From eyes to your thighs, you’re a sexy lady
Where you from, Mali?
Where you from, Haiti?
But John Love Jones was actually from Rhyl where he started playing senior football before moving to the Football and Southern Leagues. He made a goalscoring debut in Wales’s first ever win on Scottish soil at Tynecastle in 1906, but had to wait a further four years for a second, and final, cap.
King Midas is rubbish